Long before Aladdin Sane or Ziggy Stardust, a skinny 16-year-old with ambitions to be a saxophonist agreed to do lead vocals on a demo track, in a small studio in south London. Now the only known recording of the resulting session, with David Bowie singing I Never Dreamed with his first band, The Konrads, has resurfaced in an old bread basket, and is expected to fetch £10,000 at auction.
The record company evidently failed to recognise the potential of the voice that would become one of the most famous of the 20th century. The Konrads did not win the longed-for audition with Decca, although the record company did give them a trial later that year – and turned them down – soon before Bowie left the band citing artistic differences.The tape was rediscovered by David Hadfield, who was slightly older than the other Konrads, and who was both their drummer and manager. He found it when moving home, stashed in an old bread basket that had belonged to his grandfather along with a host of other material including booking forms, photographs, promotional sketches, letters and bills, in a loft above the garage.
Hadfield, who went on to make a career in the music industry, recalled that the Konrads’ agent, Eric Easton, who also managed another obscure young band called the Rolling Stones, asked them to make a demo, so he booked a session at RG Jones in Morden.
Bowie, then David Jones, before he changed his name to avoid confusion with the Monkees’ teen idol Davy Jones, and a few other band members, including Alan Dodds who became a vicar, wrote some songs for the session.
Hadfield recalled: “We had decided that we would do a couple of guitar instrumentals and one original song. I chose I Never Dreamed as it was the strongest, the other two were a bit weak. I also decided that David
was the best person to sing it and give the right interpretation. So this became the very first recording of David Jones singing 55 years ago.
“There is no other recording of the demo featuring David as lead in existence. Decca initially turned us down, but when they eventually gave us an audition later that year, vocalist Roger Ferris was the lead voice and David sang backing harmonies.”
Bowie died of cancer in January 2016, two days after the release on his 69th birthday of his 25th studio album, Blackstar.
The auction of his personal art collection, which included works by Frank Auerbach and Damien Hirst, raised £33m in a two-day sale at Sotheby’s – more than twice the pre-sale estimate.
Hadfield’s memorabilia will be sold by Omega Auctions, in Newton-le-Willows on Merseyside, in September. Auctioneer Paul Fairweather called the tape “completely unique and of great historical interest, being the earliest studio recording of a fledgling musician who would go on to super stardom”.
The article appeared in theguardian.com.